Django unchanged

01-23-2007 08;14;03PM

Way back when… Paul Degville plays with his dad, Fred, many years ago. Rest in peace, Paul, you bought so many music fans such great pleasure. Image supplied by Ian Bourne.

It’s been over a year now since I noted the sad news of the passing of Paul Degville, jazz musician extraordinaire and leading light in the formerly little recorded jazz scene that existed around the Crown Pub in Brownhills in the 1970s.

I still get email and social media messages asking me about Paul’s passing, such was the respect and fondness for a fine man and musical talent. So many people loved Paul’s work, he is clearly held in warm esteem by his fans. I’m so pleased and grateful that Peter Barker shared his tapes with us, and the magic that was achieved in the efforts undertaken to recover the lost one.

I was contacted a couple of weeks ago by reader Phil Jones, who was saddened to find out about Paul’s death whilst searching for him online. Phil sent me a lovely email which I include below:

Hello Bob

Seeing the colour photo of Jazz Night at the Crown brought back some memories. Back in the early 70’s, I was living at Cannock, and we were always on the look-out for new wateringholes. A colleague suggested the Crown on the A5, as they hosted a regular jazz night night. The main attraction being a guitarist who could play like ‘Django’. I was a little sceptical; there were no Django tribute performers around.

We went but on the first occasion, it was the wrong night. There was a small combo with a vibes player (similar style to Dave Shepherd) performing to a small but appreciative audience.

Another night was Django night, so we went a second time. Having missed the first set, we noted the busy bar and got drinks. It was definitely standing room only! As the second set started, we were all ‘blown away’ as the band worked through the usual repertoire (‘Nuages’, Swing ’48, ‘Manoir de mes reves’ etc etc).

The following Django night, we went early enough to get a seat. Talking to the regulars, we found the guitarist was Paul Degville, with his Dad on rhythm guitar. Mr. Degville snr was also the landlord. Playing the ‘Grapelli’ solos was Joe Jones, who also happened to be a member of Cannock Light Orchestra (His day job was as Cashier at the MEB in Cannock.) There was a regular fan club who were Django fans, some travelling from the far side of Walsall!

For any Django fans out there I can recommend the clips from the Django Centenary festival held near the Franco-Belge border.

Meantime I can watch the clip of Paul Degville. Some of the above detail may require confirmation, but seeing Paul at the Crown were nights to remember.

Thanks for posting that colour photo.

Best wishes
Phil Jones

I’d like to thank Phil for his warm memories, which are shared by so many local music fans of the period. I still welcome contributions on this topic, and if you have anything to add, please feel free. As I’ve noted, this is an unusual and little-recorded but of our collective history and I’d like to record as much of it as possible.

Comment on this post or email me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemai dot com. Cheers.</p

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4 Responses to Django unchanged

  1. Tony Jakeman says:

    Haha, the combo at the Crown would of course have been Ken Rattenbury and the vibe player would have been my Uncle Norman Pritchard. Sadly he died last year but in the course of clearing his place we came across some wonderful old photos and an old reel to reel tape of him playing. There was also an LP that the group made with a visiting American musician of some note who especially requested them. Can’t remember his name but we have the LP and a cassette made from it.
    Who’s going to be the best person to help us get this stuff back out to a wider audience?

  2. pebar says:

    Hi Tony. I’d be happy to do what I can. Scans of photographs wouldn’t be a problem, and I have the technology to digitise an LP (and possibly a cassette, although that’s not something I’ve tried – might be a bit of a fiddle to connect a cassette player to the computer but I could give it a go.) Sadly, the reel to reel tape would be a problem. Drop us a note on pbarker at peterbarkerdesign dot co dot uk if you want to discuss it further.

  3. sd2803 says:

    I have just come across this post as I searched the web looking for memories of my wonderful father, Paul Degville. Today, the 3rd of September, is very important for both me and my mum, as it would have been a day of celebration for my fathers birthday.

    My father was extremely talented, and unfortunately it wasn’t until he passed away that I began to realise how influential his music has been to many people. I would love to share his music with others, and remember what a generous, funny gentleman my father was.

    Thank you for such kind words.

    Sammie Degville

  4. mrdoops says:

    Did anything ever come of the recording, chaps? Would love to hear my uncle and granddad playing again.

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